Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mar
30
2013

Introducing beta WILD, Wordsmyth’s Dictionary for New Readers!

Wordsmyth is for kids

The Wordsmyth Illustrated Learner’s Dictionary (WILD) is Wordsmyth’s newest and most exciting and interactive dictionary.  WILD is geared toward children in Grades K to 3 as well as to young English Language Learners.The beta version of WILD is now available for exploration at kids.wordsmyth.net/wild/.

At the core of WILD is an abundantly illustrated dictionary that contains child-friendly, full-sentence definitions and example sentences for nearly 3,500 words.  The dictionary can, of course, be used by looking up a word in the search box, but a child may also access and explore the dictionary entries through the three distinct visual environments Wordsmyth has created: the World, the Collections, and the Book. All the environments are linked with each other so that a user may at any time navigate from one to another.

WILD’s three visual environments

In the WILD World, children can explore items as they appear in natural and human-made environments.  A child may choose to explore in Nature, seeing what plants and animals exist in a variety of surroundings, such as the seashore, the desert, or the forest; or he or she may explore in the City, looking at what objects and types of people can be found in different settings such as the school, the post office, or the grocery store.  In any setting, there are opportunities to explore on different levels.  Once in the seashore setting, for example, a child can navigate into the tide pool or into the ocean and see what creatures might exist there. 

Once in the restaurant, a child can zoom in to look at the menu, or navigate into the kitchen and open the refrigerator!  At any point, a user can see the objects in a setting with or without word labels and with or without Spanish translation.  (Chinese and other language translations will follow in all three visual environments.)  All word labels can be clicked on to access audio pronunciations as well as to link with a word’s dictionary entry.  Once in the entry, one can easily navigate back to the same item in the World.

The WILD Collections allow children to explore words in categories, viewing artist renderings of hundreds of carefully selected and arranged items.

The Collections include a wide range of categories and subcategories,  such as plants, parts of plants,  things people do, things to read, things in fairy tales, animals, mammals, invertebrates, parts of the human body, actions of the body,  foods, spices,  materials for art, colors, and shapes.  Included in the Collections is also a collection called Maps, which is where a child will gain access to an interactive map of the world.  (WILD includes a full entry for every currently recognized nation.)  Here too, a child can navigate to deeper and deeper levels and at the same time link at any point to audio pronunciations and dictionary entries.

In the WILD Book, concise versions of the dictionary entries are displayed almost as if on pages of a print dictionary, and clicking on any word will open up its full, expanded entry.  The Book environment has been designed not only to look like a print dictionary, but to resemble a print dictionary in the way the pages can be turned, allowing a user to browse page by page, looking at illustrations and photographs, and reading definitions of words that catch his or her interest.  In addition, the Book allows users the choice of viewing all the words of the dictionary or limiting the display to those words with images, words with a particular part of speech, or words that can be found in the World or Collections.

This post merely scratches the surface of what WILD has to offer, but we hope it conveys some of the excitement we feel at launching this new and vibrantly engaging educational resource.  Future posts will further detail WILD’s unique features and ways that it can be used and enjoyed by children, parents, and teachers. Visit the Wordsmyth blog later this week if you need some help using the activities in WILD.

 

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Mar
29
2013

contretemps

Posted in Word of the Day by admin

pronunciation:            kon trə tan
part of speech:             noun
definition:                    an embarrassing or unfortunate happening; mishap; mischance.
example:                      A silly contretemps at the party nearly destroyed their friendship.

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Mar
29
2013

Wordsmyth’s Integrated Dictionary-Thesaurus (or Where’s the Thesaurus?)

“Where’s the thesaurus?” is one of the most frequently asked questions by users of our dictionary.  Developed in the 1980s, the Wordsmyth Educational Dictionary-Thesaurus (WEDT) was the first online dictionary to have thesaurus information paired with individual definitions in a headword entry.  What some users don’t seem to recognize right away is that synonyms, similar words, and antonyms are matched with each sense of a word and appear directly under each definition for a particular headword.  A user doesn’t need to click anywhere to get the information and doesn’t need to leave the page  in order to see it.  In other words, the thesaurus is not a separate entity, but something built into the dictionary itself.

Occasionally when a user asks about the thesaurus, that person is looking at an entry that simply contains no synonyms, similar words, or antonyms.  This can happen because the meaning of the particular word simply does not invite these concepts, or because related words do not meet our criteria to be included in the thesaurus.  What would share the same meaning or be the opposite of a “pencil,” for example?  Is “pen” an antonym for “pencil”?  We don’t think so.  (To find words like “pen” that relate to the concept of a pencil, however, one can use our Word Explorer.  By clicking on the word “art” under Word Explorer toward the bottom of the page, one can find words such as “brush,” “crayon,” “charcoal,” “enamel,” “pen,” “ink,” and “paint.”  Clicking on “tool” will also bring up words like “pen” and many other words denoting implements.)

Not finding thesaurus information for a particular word can also occur because our projects for adding synonyms, similars, and antonyms are still ongoing, and not every word that deserves this information has it yet.  In particular, words that are derived from other words, such as “paradoxical” from “paradox,” may be empty of thesaurus information because past projects focused on root forms only.  Despite our limitations, our built-in thesaurus has synonym coverage for 16,000 academic and high-frequency words, and the fact that thesaurus information is matched with individual senses of each of these words rather than just headwords, makes the Wordsmyth thesaurus a particularly useful resource for writers and anyone looking for a better word or a better understanding of a word’s meaning.

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Mar
29
2013

reinforce

Posted in Academic Vocabulary of the Day by admin2

pronunciation:    ri ihn fors
part of speech:     transitive verb

definition 1:       to fortify or make more effective; strengthen.
example:             They reinforced the wall with steel rods.
exa
mple:              She supplied facts to reinforce her argument.

definition 2:          to strengthen (a military force or the like) through the use of additional personnel or material support.
example:                The general sent in more troops to reinforce those already deployed in the region.
(more…)

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Mar
06
2013

cajole

Posted in Word of the Day by admin

pronunciation:    k@ jol
part of speech:    transitive verb & intransitive verb
definition:    to coax or persuade insistently, as by flattery or false promises.
example:    He tried to cajole the teacher into letting him retake the exam.

(more…)

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